Innovation Cluster Drachten

Innovation Cluster Drachten (ICD) is an internationally active ecosystem of collaborating high-tech companies and knowledge institutes operating at the forefront of innovation and competitive on the global market.

Our companies work together to realize solutions for the big challenges of the future. We call these challenges the Big 5 of High Tech:

  • 3D metal printing: a unique combination of 3D printing, fundamental metals science, and post-processing technologies like ECM;
  • Remote sensoring and big data: establishing remote connections between appliances, instruments and machines, and collecting, transferring, storing, analyzing and using data;
  • Robotics: nearly or completely unmanned operation of high-tech systems at customers and in factories;
  • Visual intelligence: a unique combination of camera technologies, big data and neural networks;
  • All-electric propulsion: 100% emission-free drive systems through electric drive trains, including high-performance photovoltaic technology (100% renewable energy).

Heart of High Tech

The heart of ICD is the unique collaboration between R&D departments that support and reinforce each other instead of competing with each other. This collaboration results in more than 50 new product introductions a year worldwide that save people’s lives, render the control of complex systems easy, adjust products to the individual needs and wishes of consumers, and make data needed for further improvement of food quality accessible. Together the ICD companies are the heart of the smart factory region in Northwestern Europe.

European Digital Innovation Hub

Innovation Cluster Drachten explicitly coöperates with its environment and is hereby focused on the future. The next step in this development is the inclusion of the Northern Netherlands region in digitization. We do this by giving Northern companies the opportunity to collaborate with sparring partners at European level, so that the digitization of companies and thus the region is accelerated.

The ICD hub will help entities, specially SME’s but also midcaps and big companies, to improve their products, services and processes by introducing the great advantages of 3D printing, remote sensoring & big data, vision & deep learning and robotics into their business. The ICD firmly believes that the future of innovation in these technologies is to address the co-creation of the digital future together with other disciplines in research, open innovation and education, aligning business and growth with a sustainable future.

With the launch of our Digital Innovation Hub Northern Netherlands we will start a new program to accelerate digitalization in every corner of our economy, with the following tracks:

  • ‘Go Digital’ to get all companies to the stage of consciousness/competence with regard to digitalization;
  • ‘Play the Champions League’ to connect our frontrunners with the EU innovation programs and to share our competences with additional regions;
  • ‘Create & Share talents and competences’ by three regional demo factories annex skills labs.

The ICD-Digital Innovation Hub is a Privat Public Partnership (PPP) and therefor a nonprofit organisation.

Where great minds work

Working in ICD means contributing to solutions for the future. Over 3,500 motivated professionals - from university graduates to production employees - opted for a career in high-tech industry at one of our companies. They enjoy the challenge of using each other’s knowledge to develop high-end and unique products and to manufacture these products. This is only possible because mutual competition gave way to mutual support and mutual reinforcement.

Manufacturing industry

Besides being the center of privately funded R&D in the Northern Netherlands, we are also a group of first-rate, high-tech manufacturing companies unique in Northwestern Europe. This makes us attractive to employees who want to develop a future-oriented career in high-tech industry and to other high-tech companies that are ahead of their competitors by sharing knowledge and facilities.


A unique high-tech ecosystem is developing in the Northern Netherlands based on collaboration and knowledge exchange. Knowledge institutes like the universities of Groningen and Twente, universities of applied science like NHL and Hanze University, and regional training center ROC Friese Poort have linked up with ICD, not only to do research, but also to enable their students to do graduation and work experience internships in a high-grade technological environment. We also offer facility-share programs, and special talent and career development programs for senior secondary vocational education and training (VET) and university students and graduates and a special program to support high-tech startups.


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